The novel coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on Austin’s music venues, which have been for the most part temporarily closed or forced to completely change how they operate since March. In April, Threadgills — the historical venue where music legend Janis Joplin got her start — permanently closed, along with others like Shady Grove, Barracuda, Plush, and the North Door, just to name a few.
The city is offering several ways to help support live music venues and musicians. Austin City Council agreed upon a $15 million relief fund to be distributed, with specific funds dedicated to live music venues (applications are open until January 11, 2021), as well as iconic restaurants, bars, and venues
At the same time, the federal government proposed the bipartisan provisionary Save Our Stages Act, one of several COVID-19 relief bills from the HEROES Act, urging the importance of providing relief for independent venues. If passed, this act would authorize $10 billion in grants to independent venues, producers, promoters and talent representatives. In September, Texas Congressman Roger Williams gathered a national press conference at longtime honky-tonk Broken Spoke to show his support of the bill, garnering 100 co-sponsors so far in the House of Representatives.
At this time, none of these relief have been distributed, so now, more than ever, Austin live music venues need help. Here, Eater rounds up just a few ways you can contribute to keeping these stages operating during these difficult times.
*Please note that while the fundraisers and Venmo accounts listed below have all been shared by the official social media pages or known representatives of respective venues and bars, Eater cannot guarantee that each venue/bar will use the money as they say they will.*
Multiple Venue Initiatives
The Banding Together GoFundMe from Red River Cultural District raises funds to support venue workers, musicians, live performance artists, creatives, production, service, and hospitality industry workers. Venues included Elysium, Barbarella, Mohawk, Swan Dive, and Stubb’s.
Empire Control Room
The Red River venue, through concert promoter Heard Presents and membership platform Withfriends, is offering a variety of memberships for direct support, offering access to future shows, merch, and other perks. Membership levels start at $50 per year (that’s about four dollars for a show every month).
Hole in the Wall
The campus dive bar is accepting bartender tips through Venmo at @HITW_STAFF.
Hotel Vegas and the Volstead
The East Sixth bars/venues are open for takeout food and drinks, plus there’s merchandise available. The businesses are also accepting tips for the staff through PayPal. Hotel Vegas is offering a virtual livestream experience, Hotel Free TV, where people can directly tip the bands or subscribe to the Patreon.
After 105 years of live theater, music, and countless film premieres, this downtown entertainment mecca offers a myriad of methods for donations: through its historic preservation initiatives; becoming an annual member; or even convincing your boss to reallocate funds to ensure that the local arts community is supported.
Radio Coffee & Beer
Order the South Austin cafe’s to-go coffee or cocktails, buy its wholesale house-roasted coffee beans, and add apparel and goods from the merchandise collection to your closet or kitchen.
The Cactus Cafe
Coined as “Austin’s Living Room,” the Cactus Cafe, under the management of public radio station KUT, is home to many Austin performers getting their starts, like Brandi Carlisle, the Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks), and countless others. Donate directly to the cafe. There’s also the virtual sing-along for the holidays, and keep an eye out for livestream concerts.
The Continental Club
Look out for tickets to the legendary South Congress blues venue’s livestream concerts. In the meantime, purchase something from the wide-ranging merch shop, with locally designed T-shirts, trucker hats, vintage show posters, and patches, or opt to donate directly to the staff relief fund.
The Electric Church
The Govalle psychedelic venue and gallery is accepting donations through GoFundMe. People can also become donating members with perks and early music access starting at $5 per month, or purchase merchandise like T-shirts and cassette tapes with a 20 percent discount using the code “666.”
The Skylark Lounge
This MLK blues venue is accepting direct donations through Venmo at @Skylarkfund.